Govt. help solicited
Thank you for yet another overwhelming response. Here are some for the topic: `Disabled: Is the society sensitive enough to their needs?' The topic for the next "Voice Your Views" column scheduled for December 25 is `Fostering Culture: Chennai's unique December season'. Mail your responses before December 18 by post (or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) along with your photograph to MetroPlus, The Hindu, 859\860 Anna Salai, Chennai - 600 002.
I am myself a physically handicapped person with my right leg wasted due to infantile paralysis in my second year. Now at the age of 67, I am moving in a wheel chair. But how many places in the city (like the shopping malls, entertainment theatres, eateries, marriage halls, temples etc.) can be reached by the handicapped? In Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia and the U.S., ramps and lifts have been provided for the convenience of the physically challenged and the railway platforms are in line with the entrance to the coaches so that the wheel chair is moved in straight with a provision to lock them inside. Exclusive car parking spaces are made available near the entrance everywhere.
In Chennai buses, two seats next to the driver's seat have been provided for the physically challenged, but people seated there hardly ever give up. The Indian chapter of the Disability People International, a global self-help group with six other NGOs in Delhi wanted to determine whether Government buildings, public places and historical monuments are accessible to the physically challenged. After thorough inspection, it had stated that these places in Delhi, (and even the Parliament, Rashtrapathi Bhavan and the Prime Minister's Office and residence) were all inaccessible for people like us.
I should congratulate cricketers, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid for involving themselves with the Chennai-based NGO, the Shakthi Foundation, for providing special ramps at stadiums for the physically challenged.
The Government should step in to pass a regulation for compulsory provision of ramps in all the existing and new buildings under construction. It is a pity that the concession available for a blind man in the rental of telephones is not extended to the other sections of the lesser-abled. A special Department of Social Welfare is functioning in the Central and State Governments and they should try to understand our grievances and redress them step by step. Whenever I write to the Ministers concerned on the difficulties experienced by us, I don't get even an acknowledgement. Tall talks on the World Disabled Day will go away in thin air and will be forgotten till the next disabled day.
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